FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2011 file photo, Daniel Hernandez Jr., center, who was with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot, receives a standing ovation, during President Obama's visit to speak in Tucson, Ariz., in the wake of the mass shooting. A White House official says Hernandez will sit with first lady Michelle Obama Tuesday night for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
WASHINGTON — An intern to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who aided the congresswoman after she was shot in the head and the family of a 9-year-old girl who was killed will sit with first lady Michelle Obama for President Barack Obama‘s State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Giffords’ husband, Houston-based astronaut Mark Kelly, does not plan to attend. Kelly was invited, but her office said he wants to stay close to his wife. Giffords was transferred last Friday from the Tucson hospital where she had been a patient since the Jan. 8 shooting to a Houston facility for rehabilitation.
Intern Daniel Hernandez was hailed as a hero after the rampage in Tucson in which 18 others were shot at a constituent event the Democratic congresswoman was holding. Six people were killed, including a federal judge and 9-year-old girl Christina Taylor Green.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that Hernandez and Green’s family would attend the speech.
The 20-year-old University of Arizona student rushed to Giffords’ side and put pressure on her wounds until medical personnel arrived.
When he spoke Jan. 12 at a nationally televised memorial service in Tucson, Hernandez shunned the hero label. But when it was his turn to speak, Obama politely disagreed and assured Hernandez that he was, in fact, a hero.
Hernandez sat next to Obama during the service. On Tuesday night, he and Mrs. Obama’s other guests will sit in her box overlooking the floor of the House.
Giffords’ office also said her Arizona doctors – trauma surgeons Peter Rhee and Randall Friese and neurosurgeon Michael Lemole – and nurse Tracy Culbert planned to attend the annual address.